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Pam Shriver reveals she was in a 'traumatic' five-year relationship with her coach Don Candy

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Grand Slam doubles champion Pam Shriver reveals she was in a ‘traumatic’ five-year relationship with her coach Don Candy that started when she was 17 and he was 50

  • Pam Shriver said that she first met Don Candy when she was nine years old
  • She says their relationship, which started when she was 17, was traumatic
  • Shriver sought therapy in 2020 to help address the impact of the relationship 

The 22-time Grand Slam doubles winner Pam Shriver has opened up about a ‘traumatic’ relationship with her coach Don Candy that began when she was 17 and he was 50.

Shriver is now 59 and works in punditry. She says she first met Candy when she was nine. He was her coach when she reached the final of the US Open as a 16-year-old amateur and, writing for The Telegraph, says she told him she loved him when she was 17.

‘This is where things could and should have taken a different turn. If Don had been better informed, he might have been cannier about the potential complications that come with coaching an adolescent girl,’ Shriver said.

Pam Shriver has opened up about a'traumatic' relationship with her coach Don Candy

Pam Shriver has opened up about a ‘traumatic’ relationship with her coach Don Candy

Candy and Shriver pictured together upon her arrival for a tournament in 1982

Candy and Shriver pictured together upon her arrival for a tournament in 1982

‘I still have conflicted feelings. Yes, he and I became involved in a long and inappropriate affair. Yes, he was cheating on his wife. But there was a lot about him that was honest and authentic. And I loved him. 

‘Even so, he was the grown-up here. He should have been the trustworthy adult. In a different world, he would have found a way to keep things professional. Only after therapy did I start to feel a little less responsible. Now, at last, I’ve come to realise that what happened is on him.

‘My relationship with Don was a traumatic experience for me. The after-effects lasted far beyond the time we spent together. Our affair shaped my whole experience of romantic life. It stunted my ability to form normal relationships and set certain patterns which would recur: my ongoing attraction to older men and my difficulties in understanding how to maintain healthy boundaries.’

Shriver also warned that such dynamics between players and coaches still exist today. 

Shriver says the impact of their relationship was traumatic and in 2020, she sought therapy

Shriver says the impact of their relationship was traumatic and in 2020, she sought therapy 

‘My main motivation is to let people know this still goes on – a lot. I believe abusive coaching relationships are alarmingly common in sport as a whole. My particular expertise, though, is in tennis, where I have witnessed dozens of instances in my four-and-a-bit decades as a player and commentator,’ she said.  

Shriver added that she went to therapy to address the impact of her experiences when the Covid-19 pandemic had curtailed her workload.

She added that when she eventually split with Candy as her coach, she enjoyed the most successful time of her career. 

Candy died in 2020 at the age of 91 in his hometown of Adelaide in Australia.  

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